Killer Tracks [Release date 23.09.16]
Fortified by a mission statement that reads: “The Mutants take to the underworld to plot and scheme with their network of punks, hippies, dandies, rude boys, lowlifes and degenerates to hatch a diabolical plan to bring freedom and danger back to the airwaves”, The Mutants produce music that reflects their name, on an album with a recurring gothic undercurrent.
It’s all there on the potent hook of the edgy ‘Highway 62: “In the desert it started, in the desert it ends, either run out of gas, or run out of friends”
‘Your Desert My Mind’ is a hybrid album that reflects a wide array of guests, including Chris Goss (Queen Of The Stone Age). It explores connected, but different genres of music made up of shifting moods and feels that ultimately find an equilibrium in stoner rock, underpinned by a post-punk energy that never allows for any slack.
The core trio of the band is based round Chris Constantinou (Sinead O’Connor and Adam Ant), Rat Scabies (The Damned) and Space (Prodigy) and they are bolstered by sundry guests, including members of The Dandy Warhols (who are an obvious influence), Eagles of Death Metal and Queens of The Stoneage.
The whole album sounds like a B-movie soundtrack with gems such the gnawing groove of ‘Vultures’ being counter-weighted by songs such as the Dead Can Dance influenced ‘Always Know Where Your Water Is’, which works better as an integral part of the album rather than on its own.
At times there’s a loose DIY garage rock feel which probably reflects the array of guests, but as we plough through some big post psychedelic grooves the album gathers its momentum and coherence from its big vista feel and filmic vision.
Listen for example, to the uplifting ‘Machismo Postura’, which features David Catching (Eagles of Death Metal) on a head-on collision between latter day Hawkwind and 80′s keyboard driven new wave influences.
‘Your Desert My Mind’ is The Mutants third album and it’s directly influenced by the West Coast location of its recording. The tracks bob and weave in between a shifting number of styles that solidify on the catchy Iggy Pop feel of ’Lucky One’.
Frustratingly that track finishes all too soon to fully realizes its potential, but again reflects the fact that the whole of the album is greater than the sum of its parts
There’s a restless adventurousness at the core of the album which is in sharp contrast to the heavy duty grooves that glue everything together. Given the punk and new wave antecedents of some of the contributors, it’s probably an unlikely expectations to hope that they will stretch things out, though when they do so on the extended title track, they excel themselves and lay down a stylistic marker
‘Your Desert My Mind’ is an adventurous album in a post-punk, art house sort of way. It flies on the back of some potent psychedelic and retro impulses, such as the booming ‘The Final Hand’ on which Brent DeBoer reconnects with his Dandy Warhols past.
The full blown slice of stoner rock is full of doctored vocals, echo reverb and a buzz guitar-led wall of sound. It reaches for an intuitive resolution with a beautiful drifting piano line that comes to rest like a feather on the breeze, in an example of the band’s true craft
At times The Mutants take us back to the post-punk 80′s era that gave us bands like The Psychedelic Furs and later Primal Scream. Indeed on the ironically titled ‘Post Everything Blues’ they embody the best bits that new wave had to offer us and reshape it into a star spangled, floating groove with an irresistible wall of sound.
On ‘Fidgety’ they head into a slow building, retro sounding muscular track predicated on a sludgy, stuttering rhythm with another contrasting angst ridden vocal from Sean Wheeler which is almost over before it’s starts.
This is an album full of creative energy and an ambient depth that contributes to a colourful sonic palette, as exemplified by ‘Night Bus To Krakow’.
The latter’s essential hymnal quality is ripped asunder by Sean Wheeler’s wild-eyed gothic rap over a flute led groove, which suggests that both Charles Manson and Wildman Fischer have a lot to answer for.
Each guest broadens the composite, but if there’s a disappointment it’s simply that too often they seem happy to leave their sonic footprint without taking it beyond the introductory stage.
That said the album does have a linear feel which builds almost imperceptibly to the mind expanding ‘Distant Light’, as the ensemble featuring Bingo Richey, Victoria Williams, Zia McCabe, Peter Holmstrom, David Catching explore elements of Floyd, trance and the ever present desert rock.
Heavily plucked bass notes glue it all together before a big drum roll lever us into yet another heavy duty slab of psychedelia.
‘Your Desert, My Mind’ acts like a sonic compass, leaving the listener to join the dots and use their imagination to add the imagery. The music of the desert never sounded so good. ****
Review by Pete Feenstra
Pete Feenstra presents his Rock & Blues Show on Get Ready to ROCK! Radio every Tuesday at 19:00 GMT, and “The Pete Feenstra Feature” on Sundays at 20:00
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